New Castle's season comes to an end
New Castle (48) Vs. Archbishop Carroll (77)
By Andrew Koob
New Castle News
CHAMBERSBURG — The New Castle High boys basketball team had one of the state’s best teams right where the Red Hurricane wanted it.
Archbishop Carroll held a three-point lead after the first quarter, but the ’Canes had momentum and what sounded like homecourt advantage.
Any advantage that they had to start the game quickly vanished in the second quarter, as Archbishop Carroll rolled through New Castle 77-48 in the PIAA Class AAA quarterfinals at Chambersburg High School last night.
The Patriots opened the second quarter with 10-straight points and outscored New Castle 22-5 to take a 20-point lead into the halftime break.
“They make a couple of huge threes, started to stretch it out and then they had two or three putbacks,” New Castle coach Ralph Blundo said.
“We knew coming into the game that we were out-manned, that we would have to force them to take outside shots and hope they didn’t make them. That’s a tough way to prepare for a game but, when you’re out-manned like that and they have a guy as dominant inside as (Derrick) Jones that requires so much attention, you don’t have a choice.
“We didn’t have a choice, they made a couple of threes. Any time we missed a box out, and even times when we did box out, they got tip-ins. It was them being bigger and more athletic.”
Archbishop Carroll looked flustered in the opening eight minutes, committing turnovers and allowing shots in the paint. Marquel Hooker’s layup and foul with one-tenth of a second remaining brought the New Castle (22-6) deficit to one possession.
The Patriots (23-6) quickly responded and put the game out of reach with their strong second quarter showing.
“I thought we were great in the second quarter,” Archbishop Carroll coach Paul Romanczuk said. “It was a feeling-out process (in the first quarter), I have to respect Coach Blundo and the New Castle program. They played hard, they play with a champion’s heart. I just don’t know if our guys were quite ready to start the game. New Castle brought that energy, their fans brought that energy and I thought we settled in and realized what we were in store for. I thought we matched that intensity.”
Jones, a UNLV commit, was bottled up for most of the first quarter and was held to just six points, all on second chances. It didn’t take long for him to get going, however, as the senior totaled a game-high 22 points and 15 rebounds.
Marcus Hooker paced New Castle with 16 points and his brother, Marquel, tallied 10 points.
Archbishop Carroll connected on five 3-pointers and was successful on 20 of its 25 chances (80 percent) at the charity stripe.
On a night where everything seemed to click for the Patriots, it equally frustrated the ’Canes.
“To beat a team like this, you have to keep them off of the foul line,”
Blundo said. “If they do get to the foul line, you can’t have them shoot 80 percent the way they did. Then you can’t have them be as efficient as they were from the three-point line. It really was pick your poison, I’ve yet to see a team that has the weapons that they have at every position. A great big man, a phenomenal point guard, a fabulous shooter, a defensive stopper and a tremendous slasher with a mid-range game. They have everything you need to be a state champion.”
Added Romanczuk, “I think we’re pretty good at getting to the line. We’re not always the best at seeing the ball go through the hoop. But I thought we shot it pretty well from the line tonight. Derrick gets to the line a lot, Josh (Sharkey) gets to the line a lot, Dave (Beatty) gets to the line when he’s attacking. I think we have a team that can get to the line and get some free points.”
New Castle will lose three seniors to graduation in Robert Natale, D’Marqus Blanchard and Bryan Owens.
“We do have plenty of potential,” Blundo said. “Before that, we want to celebrate our three seniors. All I want from my guys is, when they reach the point that they leave us, that they’re ready to go out into the world and do things right. I feel good knowing that’s true about those three.”
The loss is New Castle’s first PIAA playoff defeat since a 67-63 defeat to Lower Merion in the Class AAAA semifinals in March, 2013.
Yet Blundo, who has preached about his team reaching their full potential throughout the year, couldn’t help but look at the positives of a successful season.
“It hurts, but I’m equally as proud of this team as I am of the team that won the state championship last year,” Blundo said. “The only thing you want from a team when the year starts is for them to meet their potential and be as good as they can be. I believe we did that.
“This was as far as we can go, and we can live with that.”